Vietnam's social development achievements in recent years

- According to UNDP Human Development Report, Vietnam’s HDI has grown relatively rapid from 0.560 in 1995 to 0.688 at present; Vietnam’s HDI position as compared to that of the countries in the region, in Asia, and in the world has moved from 7/10, 32/50, 122/201 in 1995 to 6/10; 28/50 and 109/201 in 2000 respectively; With regard to GDP per capital, Vietnam is in the bottom group of the developing countries while its HDI position is above the average of the developing countries.

- Life expectancy of the Vietnamese has been raised remarkably in the past years. In 1995 it was 65.2 and now it is 67.8. This is rooted in such changes as the increase in income, the improvement of public health care; social and spiritual life of the population.

- With regard to public health care:

+ As compared to the situation before August 1945, Vietnam now has increased the number of health care units by 17.7 times (13,092/741), the number of licensed nurses and doctors by 156.9 times (94,100/600).

+ Health care programs have gained positive results with vaccination universalized throughout the country and with the budget increasing all the time. The total budget for the 5 years (1996-2001) increased by two folds.

- Employment: in three years 2001-2003: 4.325.000 jobs were created in all economic sectors, thus reducing the unemployment rate in urban areas down to 5.7%.

1. Hunger eradication and poverty reduction

Since the 1990s, persistent efforts have been made by the State in fighting poverty. The total amount invested in poverty reduction reached VND 13,400 billion, of which domestic input accounts for two thirds. This has meant 140,000 houses built for the poor; 1.66 million poor people being offered free health insurance and 2.45 million given access to free healthcare services. Overall, Vietnam’s poverty rate was reduced by half during the past decade, a rare achievement among developing countries.

By the end of 2003, the number of poor households dropped by 934,000 households, from 2.804 million households to 1,867 million households at a rate of 310,000 households per year. Compared to early 2001, the percentage of poor household was reduced by 6.18% from 17.18% to 11%. In 2003, the percentage of poor households was reduced by 3% as against 2002, while the GDP grew at 7.2%. 5 cities and provinces have less than 5% poor households, 23 cities and provinces have less than 10% poor households. The National Program on Hunger Eradication and Poverty Reduction endeavors to reduce the percentage of poor household to 10% by 2004.

By international standards, the poverty rate in Vietnam is 29% compared to 56% in 1993. Thus, in 9 years Vietnam reduced poor households by 50%. In 1990, the United Nations set a plan which aimed at reducing poverty to less than 50% in 25 years. In 2003, Vietnam achieved this goal, which is 12 years ahead. Therefore, Vietnam is recognized by the United Nations as a leading country in the hunger eradication and poverty reduction Millennium.

2. Ethnic policies

The State’s commitment to the overall human development of ethnic minority groups in Vietnam translates into key nationwide social, economic and cultural development programs launched in recent years, for example:

- The Land Allocation Program (Decision 132/2001/QD-TTg by the Prime Minister): local authorities in the Central Highlands are beginning to provide 5,139 hectare of land to 10,455 ethnic minority households who are in shortage of farm land.

- 168/TTg Decision lays down measures for the socio-economic development of the Central Highlands that aim at doubling local gross domestic product per capital between 2000 and 2002.

- Similar Decision for the 6 Northern mountainous provinces with especially difficult circumstances.

From 2002 to 2003, the State earmarked VND 1,390 billion to carry out the latter two programs. Other policies and measures include price subsidies to compensate transportation cost of 8 staple products; Program No 327 for regreening barren hills which created 40,000-50,000 new jobs from 1995 – 1998; Clean Water and Environment Sanitation Program. So far, there are 95,000 farms in ethnic mountainous areas (88% of the national total) involving 450,000 hands.

Healthcare infrastructures in ethnic mountainous areas include a healthcare center to every district and a dispensary in 93.5% of remote communes. There are 400 ethnic boarding schools throughout the country, offering various forms of education and training for 60,000 ethnic secondary school students. In the National Assembly, the percentage of deputies of ethnic minority origin has risen and now stands above the actual demographic ratio (13%) (See bellow). The current General-Secretary of the Party is a member of the Tay ethnic minority.

The 1st Legislature: 34 deputies (10%) from 14 ethnic groups
The 9th Legislature: 66 deputiess (16.7%)
The 10th Legislature: 78 deputies (17.1%) from 33 different ethnic groups
The 11th Legislature: 86 deputies (17.2%) from 32 different ethnic groups

3. On the rights of the children:

In 1991, the Government of Vietnam started to implement the National Plan of Actions for Children for the year 1991-2000, and in 2001 a similar Plan of Actions have been carried on for 2001 - 2010 period.

As a result of these Plans of actions, the children of Vietnam today are in better health and are receiving better education. As of 2000, the polio and other diseases due to the lack of vitamins A have been eradicated throughout the country; the number of measles cases in children dropped by 82.1% and deaths on measles dropped by 97.3% in comparison with the figures of 1986. During the same period of time, the ratio of infants born under 2500 grams of weight was reduced from 14% to 7.1%.

In the field of education, Vietnam also overpassed the goals set by The Program of Actions 1991-2000. 37% of children between the age of 3 to 5 years old went to kindergartens as compared with the goal of 35-40%; 78% of children of the age of 5 went to school (the goal was 70-80%); 93% of children at the age of 6 were enrolled in elementary schools, surpassing the goal of 93%; the ratio of children of 14 years old completing elementary education met the set goal of 90%.

4. The eradication of discrimination against women in any form:

- According to Vietnam’s statistics, Vietnamese women account for 50.8% of the total population with the average life expectancy of 74 years. In Vietnam, women made up 50% of the labor force. In certain economic branches, women account for a high percentage of the labor force, for example, 53% in agriculture – forestry – fishery, 65% in light industry, 68.6% in trade and services, 65% in civil servants. The average unemployment rate among women during the last 6 years is 6.29%, lower than that among men and much lower than the unemployment rate among the general population, which stands at 17.51%.

- Vietnam gives preferential treatment to women in pregnancy and maternity period. Vietnamese women enjoy maternity leave longer than the minimum standard of 12 weeks recommended by the International Labor Organization.

- There has been a significant rise in the percentage of women members of the National Assembly; 17% for the 1987-1992 National Assembly, 18.48% for 1992-1997, 26.22% for 1997-2002 and 27.31% for the current Assembly 2002-2006. Vietnam ranks second in Asia - Pacific and 9th out of 135 countries in the world with regards to the percentage of women in the National Assembly. At present, women hold the post of Vice-President, 11.9% of ministerial posts, 7.3% Deputy-Ministerial posts, 13% department heads, 45% of company directors, 3.3% chiefs of provincial governments, 7.3% heads of provincial government’s department.

- Regarding education, the percentage of female participation at various educational levels stand as follows: Kindergartens: 48.2%; elementary: 47.9%; junior high: 46.9%; senior high: 46.8%; 2-year college: 51.9%; university: 39.1%; professors: 3.5%; associate professors: 5.9%; doctors of sciences degree: 5.1%.

- The illiteracy rate among women is still at 13.1%, higher than 6% among men, however has been rapidly reduced in comparison before the Renovation policy was introduced (in 1986).

5. On the Press and Publications:

At present, there are 486 public media organizations in Vietnam, with over 600 publications. The number of copies of newspapers and magazines issued annually reaches 635 millions. The national television gives 24 hours service everyday. 95.1% of all the villages receive television broadcasts and 98.1% for radio programs. Vietnamese people nowadays enjoy better access to modern communication technology. The number of telephones in the county reaches 4 millions; there are 308,000 cellular phone users (a 30-fold increase as compared to 1991); 500.000 internet accounts (500 times surge as compared to 1997). The development of the media has contributed greatly to the general development of the country during the past recent years.